Re­sus­ci­tat­ing Libya in Malta?

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

The Di­a­logue Com­mit­tee, an amor­phous unelected body with vague pre­rog­a­tives, was the brain­child of the Span­ish Sig­nor Leon; the se­cond UN spe­cial Com­mis­sioner to Libya.

The two-day Lon­don meet­ing was at­tended by the Libyan Pres­i­dency Coun­cil chair­man Faiez Ser­raj and other high of­fi­cials, as well as the US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, and the Bri­tish For­eign Min­is­ter Boris John­son. Though the meet­ings were to fo­cus on the econ­omy, the pres­ence of the French, Ital­ians, the United Arab Emi­rates and Saudi Ara­bia was in­dica­tive of a quest for a wider po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment. The Libyans in­cluded Cen­tral Bank gover­nor Sid­dig Elk­a­bir and the Na­tional Oil Cor­po­ra­tion boss Sanal­lah, who has seen oil pro­duc­tion surge since the Army wrested the Oil Cres­cent ter­mi­nals from the con­trol of the old Petroleum Fa­cil­i­ties Guard led by a mav­er­ick. The chair­man of the Libyan In­vest­ment Author­ity was no­tice­ably ab­sent.

The main para­dox that marked the Lon­don meet­ing how­ever was the ab­sence of a joint-state­ment on its de­lib­er­a­tions and de­ci­sions. In sep­a­rate press state­ments the Libyan fi­nan­cial play­ers were urged to work to­gether. The Bank of Libya and the Libyan Au­di­tor Of­fice later is­sued ex­plana­tory state­ments. The real rea­son for such odd con­duct was that the meet­ing could make no con­sti­tu­tion­ally-bind­ing de­ci­sions. The Libyan leader Sar­raj heads a for­ma­tion, namely the GNA gov­ern­ment which has yet to be ap­proved by the Libyan (To­bruk) Par­lia­ment, while the Bank of Libya is also an ex­ten­sion of that Par­lia­ment which was not even in­vited to the meet­ing. The Libyan Na­tional Au­di­tor has no right to med­dle in pol­i­tics ei­ther. Hence the odd ret­i­cence over what was de­cided. Now some way out has to be con­cocted to over­come such con­sti­tu­tional trans­gres­sions, re­gard­less of the de­clared in­ten­tions of the com­ing Malta meet­ing.

The essence of the Libyan cri­sis has been and re­mains the po­lit­i­cal ri­val­ries of largely armed groups. The GNA is in­car­cer­ated in a small naval base in the cap­i­tal which is con­trolled by such an­tag­o­nis­tic mili­tias. Fur­ther­more, author­ity in the coun­try is di­vided be­tween the GNA and the army headed by Gen­eral Hefter in the east of his­tor­i­cal Cyre­naica. The cur­rent cri­sis can­not ap­proach res­o­lu­tion unless such ab­sur­di­ties are at­tended to.

It is per­ti­nent here to re­peat the words of Char­lotte Les­lie, a Bri­tish Con­ser­va­tive Party politi­cian and MP, who warned a month ago of the dan­gers of an­tag­o­niz­ing the elected To­bruk Par­lia­ment, adding that re­gard­less of Bri­tain’s view of the per­son of Gen­eral Hefter, one could not ig­nore the fact that he has re­built the Libyan Army, adding that such men are con­tro­ver­sial any­way.

On my way to Malta the other day, I no­ticed that a Euro­pean di­plo­mat in­volved in the Libyan cri­sis was trav­el­ling, econ­omy class, on the same flight. In a brief chat, he re­marked that the Libyan im­passe is due to self­ish lead­ers who couldn’t care less about the fu­ture of their coun­try. I com­mented: “Per­haps you’re talk­ing to the wrong peo­ple.” He smiled and I wished us both a safe flight.

The di­plo­mat’s state­ment surely points to one cru­cial move. The present rul­ing Libyan po­lit­i­cal crew, three gov­ern­ments and two par­lia­ments have to ad­mit they have com­pletely failed to con­trol Libya’s af­flic­tions and mis­eries and must step out of the pic­ture.

The next step could be to form a Tran­si­tional Na­tional Unity gov­ern­ment whose mem­bers are se­lected on the ba­sis of abil­ity and not, as is the case now, on affiliation to re­gion or tribe. Such an ap­proach will also have to in­clude com­man­ders of armed groups who are of var­ied con­vic­tions. A tran­si­tional con­sul­ta­tive cham­ber with a man­age­able num­ber could be se­lected from the present bod­ies.

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